everyone wants to be with me ten years from now —
we are breaking up in the front row of an empty theater
because it is the only place to cry in private on this campus
& also everything is a production with you.
but mostly we are breaking up because i want to be with you
here & today & completely
eating almond butter toast
in our pajama shorts tomorrow morning
but you tell me you don’t know these adverbs
or can’t learn them or won’t.
instead you want me
sometimes & maybe & casually
not knowing the woman you’ll be tomorrow morning
so instead of calling you selfish
i blame your trauma
or the ghost of the girl who came before me
or the three months since your last ketamine infusion
or the clouds in November in Ohio.
— they always like the idea of me once i finally figure my shit out
& of course i too have wasted hours picturing
how your tattoos might stretch across your forearms
as you lift a baby to the ceiling
of a living room you painted
my favorite shade of yellow
or the loose barrette
grasping your flyaway curls
while you weed the zinnia patch
i planted for your birthday
but mostly i waste hours picturing
how i might have loved you in all your tenses.
sometime before 2029
at a dorm room kitchen table
where you hum & slice
a banana into disks
& i fold the secondhand jeans
you abandoned on my carpet
sometime the night before
when your arms made me realize
i can’t spend the next decade
sometime like the present.
Virginia Kane is the author of the poetry chapbook If Organic Deodorant Was Made for Dancing (Sunset Press 2019). A graduate of the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop, she is a sophomore at Kenyon College studying English and Women’s and Gender Studies. A semi-finalist for the 2018 Button Poetry Chapbook Contest and a 2018 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Gold Medalist, Virginia’s work can be found in SWWIM Every Day. Virginia is the Operations Intern at the Kenyon Review, performs with the Kenyon Magnetic Voices spoken word poetry team, and serves as the Managing Editor of Sunset Press. She plans to establish an intersectional feminist teaching collective that uses poetry to teach body acceptance and appreciation to young femme people with an emphasis on media literacy and the decolonization of capitalist-driven western beauty standards. You can find her on Instagram @virginia_kane and Twitter @virginiakane_
About This Poem
"This poem emerged days after a tumultuous breakup that solidified upon my realization that a past love could not shape-shift into the committed figure I wanted her to be in my life – nor could I modify my behavior to conform to how she wanted our relationship to operate. We often avoided confronting this issue by distracting ourselves with romanticized ideas of a shared future; as if the passage of time itself might magically serve as the antidote to our present incompatibility. Although this poem found me yearning for versions of reality that I longed to exist and even declaring a willingness to love this woman in any stage of life under any conditions, hindsight has clarified that I cannot idealize a person to the point of dishonoring who they are or ignore a gut instinct telling me my needs are being invalidated. I will always be in love with the way poetry provides a time capsule of how I once felt while allowing me to witness the evolution of old emotions into a stronger sense of self-awareness and resoluteness in what I want from the world."